Category Archives: Interviews

A Chat With : Meltybrains?

We sat down for a chat with Tadhg Byrne, Brian Dillon, Donnacha O’Malley and Ben McKenna ( who joins half way through) from Meltybrains? before their show at Oktoberfest in The Bowery Rathmines. We talked about their crazy live shows, having children and the lads treated us to a…. unique rendition of the Irish National anthem.

Watch the interview here

 


A Chat With: Sun Mahshene

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We caught up with Nathan Henderson from Sun Mahshene  last month after their set in  Sin É Dublin, to get to know them a little better and try and decipher the inner workings of those blissful psychedelic tunes

Tell us a bit about yourselves?

N: My name is Nathan Henderson and I’m the chief songwriter, vocalist and guitarist in Sun Mahshene. Myself and the other core members of the group make up a 6 piece indie/psych rock n roll outfit from Dublin. The other members are Ian McGinn on guitar, Ryan Daffy on Guitar, Darren Hughes on bass, Dave Murray on drums and Ray Burke on percussion and backing vocals. We also have some other players who stand in if we’re short. They are Stephen Mooney on guitar, Graham Matthews on guitar, Martin Fagan on bass and Tom Moylan on drums.

How did ‘Sun Mahshene’ come about?

N: It originally started out as a bit of a “bedroom” project for me back in 2014. I was in between bands and putting down ideas in my home studio to keep myself entertained. But once I put some demos up online it soon grew legs. There was a good bit of positive feedback coming in so I decided to work on taking it to the next level. The early incarnation of the band consisted of friends who I had previously played in bands with, who agreed to helped me to get the ball rolling. Dave is the only one left in the current line up from those early rehearsal sessions. There’s been a bit of a revolving door of members but we’ve a settled core group of players now.

 Tell us about what it was like when you first started writing music and coming up with your sound?

N: Before Sun Mahshene I was involved in mainly indie rock bands with sounds along the lines of The La’s, Oasis, The Stone Roses, that sort of thing. So this time around I wanted to create something with a bigger, more raw and darker sound. It was when delving  into the Shoegaze, Neo-Psych and Garage rock genre’s the my vision became clearer of what I wanted to achieve sound wise. I did a lot of research on how my favourite bands from these genre’s achieved their sounds from what guitar pedals and amps they used right up to the type of guitar strings and different tuning scales. I’ve a box in my studio that’s absolutely full of guitar pedals. It’s been a fantastic voyage of discovery so far and a lot of fun. And long may it continue!

You released your fourth EP ‘Drones That Don’t Kill’ last year tell us a bit about the EP?

N: Yeah, the EP was released on New Years Eve. We recorded it at Darklands Audio in Dublin and was co produced with Daniel Doherty who’s the main man there. Working with Dan was great and a nice learning experience. He chipped in with some good advice and little ideas to help us fine tune things. It was our way of closing off  what was an eventful year for the band. 2016 was a year that we worked hard on establishing the line up and creating a cohesive live sound. So we wanted to put something out, for ourselves more so than anything else, so that we had something to show for our hard work. And we’re happy with the overall reception it has gotten since it was released.

Do you have a favourite track on the EP?

N: Mine has to be the lead track, ‘No Control’.It’s an absolute belter of a rock n roll tune and great to play live! It’s also Darren’s go too tune. Ryan and Dave are into ‘Shine Your Light’ and Ian is into ‘In The End’. Martin Fagan, who was our bass player at the time of recording the EP, loves the bonus track ‘I Love You’ which plays on the tail end of ‘You’.

The tracks are hazy and soaked in blissful twisted psychedelia with enough fuzz and heaviness to keep it punchy but it’s still ridiculously dizzying and delusional tell us how you achieve this sound and what drove you to create a mirage of darkly saturated tunes?

N: We wanted to do something which not many are doing here at the moment. Or certainly not in Dublin. There are some good indie bands doing the jangley thing but we’re more interested in playing tunes with a bit more bombast to them. So we’ve got 3 guitarists rather than the standard 1 or 2 you’d get in a lot of bands. It adds extra weight to our sound and an extra dimension to how we play.

 The track ‘In The End’ was co-written and features vocals from Lydia Des Dolles of Daag Hur, how did that collaboration come about?

N: I was part of an early lineup of  Daag Hur with Lydia and we had recorded a demo of In The End before I left the band. The song used to be called Before The Light Fades which had different lyrics and slightly different melody which I used to sing. We reworked the lyrics and vocal melody to suit her style of singing. After I left I thought it’d be a waste not to put the song out on something and so asked Lydia if she’d be cool with it being a Sun Mahshene release. She was happy to go with it and the result was great.

 There is a lot going on in your tracks with swirling soundscapes meandering through droning sometimes explosive percussion and sharp piercing guitar arrangements talk us through the writing and producing process for your songs?

N: I have a studio at home and write all of the parts for the songs and take them to the rest of the guys. It’s probably not the most democratic of bands but once an idea is brought to the everyone the feel changes somewhat as their different styles of playing add extra personality to things.

How do you find the recording process is there anything in particular you find difficult?

N: We love being in the studio and recording. It’s extrememly gratifying to hear something you’ve been working on in rehearsals come together. Sometimes you’re focused on your own parts of the song when rehearsing making sure you’re getting it right. So it can be easy to miss or not fully take in what everyone is doing. So once it’s put down in the studio you get to hear the consolidation of everyone’s input fully. I think the most difficult thing is the mixing process. We tend to layer up a lot of different sounds and guitar effects so the impact of certain songs can be lost when there’s too much going on. We really need to sit down and make some tough decisions on what parts need to be stripped out to ensure the song we happen to be working on can be as good  as can possibly be. Drones That Don’t Kill was co produced with Daniel Doherty. So he helped push the song in the right direction and offered great advice.

 Tell us about the concept for the cover art for the EP?

N: The cover art was a summary of what a crazy year 2016 was politically. Both on a national level and internationally. We had the Irish Water debacle happening, Brexit in the UK and then the Trump farce in the US. So we wanted to captured that somehow. It goes back to what Nina Simone once said, an artist’s duty is to reflect the times.

 What is a live show with you guys like?

N: Loud, sweaty and full of melody. We’re probably not the most animated bunch on stage. But we hope the music does the speaking for us. Although, Darren on bass does enjoy a bop.

 How do you get a crowd warmed up and ready to engage and rock out with you guys?

N: Our set is full on from start to finish so our ethos at the moment is to kick the door down and ask questions later in that respect. There’s no better way to catch someones attention by blowing their heads off. As an unsigned band you have to do something which will capture people’s attentions right from the start. But we’re constantly working on new ideas on how to change things up a bit so I’m sure how we deliver our shows will evolve into something else as time goes on.

 Have you had any bizarre things happen while you were on stage?

N: At one show we played, a guy in the audience loved our stuff so much he started throwing beer mats at Ian. He was punching the air and giving rock signs with his hands. I don’t think Ian even realised what was happening. He’s a typical shoegazer, once the song starts his head drops down when he’s playing. So it was funny to have beer mats flying past our heads like frisbies. We got off lightly though because the guy threw a bar stool at the headline act because he was so into their stuff. Luckily it didn’t make it on to the stage. I guess people can have a funny way of showing their appreciation. Either way we’re glad he liked it!

 What is your favourite venue to perform in so far and why?

N: Out of the venues we’ve played so far it’s probably The Workmans Club in Dublin. They have great sound engineers there and the venue is a nice size. As an added bonus, we all manage to fit on the stage which can be a struggle for us in other venues.

 What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?

N: The biggest challenge is when one of the core members can’t do one of our shows. It can be at short notice, so getting one of our stand ins up to speed with new songs can be tricky. But everyone that comes in to play for us are great musicians so they generally pick up on things fairly quickly. We haven’t had to cancel a show yet and long may it continue.

 What advice do you have for people who want to form their own band?

N: Forget about trying to be the next big thing or trying to sound like what the flavour of the month is on the radio or whatever platform you listen to music on. Do what ever feels right and inspires you. And ultimately enjoy yourself. The hardwork will pay off in the end.

 What’s next for ‘Sun Mahshene’?

N: We’ve a couple of shows coming up, one in Stage 19 on Francis Street, Dublin on the 14th of October. We’ll have great support on the night from Segrasso and Free Sunshine Acid. Then we’re in with the good folks at Gigonometry on the 20th of November in The Workmans Club, Dublin. We’re also demoing our debut album which we aim to begin recording early next year.

Stream ‘Drones That Dont Kill’ below


A Chat With : The Vex

We caught up with Jacko from the Vex to have a chat about the release of their new ‘The Vex’ EP and to see what makes them tick.

Who are The Vex and how did the band come about?

The Vex are 4 people who create sonic noise with guitars and drums. We love heavy riffs and we love rocksteady.

You have released your new EP tell us a bit about that and what can we expect to hear from it?
‘The Vex’ EP is our debut vinyl which we’re very excited about. It’s a single sided 12 inch with 5 tracks. Sonically it goes from punk to rock n roll to heavy reggae to dub. We sing about a young girls gallantry, existence and freedom of speech.
Your style smashes punk rock against sharp-edged Jamaican rhythms and stomp ready beats how do you come up with these catchy tracks and what is your writing style?
Thanks for noticing! Yeah we love these styles of music so when we jam it always sounds like a mash up of the two, we think they compliment each other perfectly too. There’s normally a riff that its based around a song will come out of that.
Do you have a favourite track on the EP and why?
It changes from moment to moment, but right now I’m loving the coolness of ‘Darker Shade Of Black’.
You have a track called ‘Satori’ which is the  Zen-Buddhist term for awakening, or enlightenment how did you discover this term and what brought about writing the song?
I am a massive fan of Alan Watts’ talks (YouTube him). He shined a light on eastern philosophies Toaism, Zen-Buddhism etc, its a very enjoyable way of looking at the world. Worrying is pointless.
You guys definitely like to face the issues of injustice with tracks like ‘Education Kills’ which references the bravery of Malala Yousafzai, shot in the head by the Pakistan Taliban while campaigning for women’s rights to education and ‘Darker Shade Of Black’ a defiant nod to freedom of speech, is this appealing to your following or are these issues close to your heart?
We’ll always write about issues that strike a chord with us. With Malala Yousafzai I remember being really impacted by her story I wrote the song almost immediately.
Whats a live show with you guys like?
Loud, skanking, singing, dancing and hopefully make you think about what you wanna do in life and give you the nerve to go do it.
Have you any live shows coming up?
Wednesday 8th May Rich Rix. The Finsbury in July
 Any Irish dates planned?
Not as yet, but would love to get down to the south and west coasts of Ireland, Kerry is on the list.
Whats next for The Vex?
More riffs, more messages, more EPs, more vinyl, more spreading the good vibes!

Jacko x

You can get  ‘The Vex’ EP here https://thevex.bandcamp.com/

Stream ‘Living In The’ below


A Chat With : The Revellions

We caught up with James Lister from The Revellions after their single launch show at The Grand Social, Dublin, to talk about the new release and what we can expect from the new album.

Tell us a bit about yourselves, how did you all meet and how did the band start?

The band started many years ago and we’ve evolved over the years. Members have come and gone, myself and Michael the drummer have been there from the start. I met Juan who’s from Spain he plays bass we met about a year ago and we just kind of worked very well. Another friend Sean he plays rhythm guitar he came in to fill in and after a while we met Anna who’s a crazy woman and she plays the keys for us. We met Ed later on. Eds only been in the band about a year. We’ve been working on a record since then and we’ve almost completed it, it’s in the stages of being mixed and tonight we will be launching our single ‘False Hope ‘so any spare cash head to the record store and buy it.

There are 6 of you in the band does that make for crazy rehearsals with 6 opinions to hear, does democracy play a big part?

No – well it can, but not really. I do all the songwriting myself so a lot of the arrangements come from me. I suppose you give a bit of freedom to everybody in the band but at the end of the day the structures and stuff would be written by myself. Someone I think in every band has to have a stronger pull so the band actually works. But everyone that’s involved in our music is always well experienced. If we use any session players brass or anything they would be very good. We had a great backing singer come onto the album called Gina Rose, beautiful voice. Opinions are quite easy going, the lads are easy going, so there’s a lot of good continuity in the band. Everyone likes each other more or less, you have your ups and downs like everybody but I don’t know, it is what it is.

You have a diverse sound of Garage Surf Rock mixed with psychedelia and a bit of grunge at times does this mixed sound reflect different influences from different members of the band?

No. We listen to a lot of music though. My wife is Spanish she’s from Valencia so I’ve a lot of influence from worldwide music. I don’t try and get ourselves too into a niche we try and make it our own – our own stamp on any music that we like from any style.We do have a lot of influences from 60’s and 70’s dare I say 90’s but it’s always kind of keeping it flowing and keeping us all interested as members of the band. So we try not to focus entirely on one kind of style just so we can enjoy playing.

You guys have a knack for writing fun foot stomping tunes, Talk us through your music writing process, how you come up with the slick riffs and catchy hooks and melodies?

I write the song i bring it down we choose the instruments and sounds we want to use we don’t try and complete it all in a couple of nights it kind of evolves over weeks sometimes months, there’s no technique there’s no science to it, it works or it doesn’t really.

Where does your inspiration come from?

Everyday life, you know people, friends, stories nothing specific I like to take whatever goodness I can out of any situation, anything like that enlightens me I suppose.

You have released your new single ‘False Hope’ with b side Carrie-Ann tell us about those tracks?

‘False Hope’ – I was trying to write a song that I suppose I’m giving out a little bit at the situation I was in at the time I wrote it. About being told I have to do something and not wanting to do it and trying to resist. It doesn’t always work out that way but the song is kind of dragging me in that direction and that’s what I wanted to write the song about. Its false hope and you know an illusion basically that people offer you that’s not entirely true.

‘False Hope’ is trippy, floaty and groovy but appears a little tighter and more refined than your previous albums how do you feel you guys have progressed and developed from “The Revellions” and “Give it Time” albums?

Yeah I was trying to make a cleaner more suitable sound for a larger audience. I’m still writing for me but I wanted to write it more easier for people to grab onto because garage rock and roll music, it’s quite a little niche it’s quite a pigeon hole to be honest. But music wise I’ve evolved since I’ve started making records and working with engineers. Working in studios also has changed. I also know now a lot more how to get something I want to get like before I would have been told or supervised or assisted into going a direction where it maybe worked but maybe wasn’t exactly where I was trying to get in the first place, lack of knowledge on my own behalf and not being able to get there but now it’s a little bit different. We’d be pretty quick in getting the sound we want and we don’t have to be told. The second album I recorded myself and mixed and produced myself. So this album I didn’t have a lot of outside opinions and we got a great guy called Garry up in Red Lake Studios, he’s a great guy, great producer, great engineer place is lovely, nice wooden cabin up there you can get lost out there or whatever you want to do. You can stay out there for weeks no one will bother you.

Where did the idea for the cover art for ‘False Hope’ come from?

My wife is a designer so she’s quite reasonable, being my wife I can give out to her better than I can give out to any other designer when she see’s this she will definitely agree. She’s a saint and if I need something changed she will change it for me but she always has a better look at it then I would. Designing covers is not really something that i’m tuned into I’d like to pretend I was but it wouldn’t be in my forte. But she’s very good and I do trust her with our designs and stuff like that.

Your new album will be released later this year what can we expect from that?

There’s a bit of rock and roll in it and a bit of psychedelic in it and a bit of everything to be honest. I don’t think there is one specific sound – the sounds that we bring into it makes it kind of.., it’s not a one trick pony going home. I enjoyed making it I still haven’t finished we are still doing a bit of brass next month and a few songs need to be mixed but the way it’s shaping up at the moment I think it’s going to be fantastic.

Would you say you guys are at your best live?

Yes and no I love working in the studio. Live is great but I love working in the studio you have a lot more freedom. I do like live performances but making music and performing live is too separate things. You can do a lot of experiments that you couldn’t do on stage which really kind of helps bring the record to a make-believe place. Whereas live can be quite direct and in your face and you can make it work and try and put as much energy in as possible but yeah it’s too separate things.

What is your Favourite song to perform live and why?

My favourite song to perform I didn’t get to perform tonight which is unfortunate it will be on the record so It’s called ‘I Know It’s Mine’ It’s a cool tune we didn’t play it tonight but it will be on the record

You have toured in Germany, France, United Kingdom, Norway and Spain what was that like for you and do you have a favourite ?

No they are all great usually we do them all a second run so it kind of feels exactly like we are not necessarily in France or Germany. We are in a van and we do the show we drive for 6 or 8 hours or whatever. It’s not the same as travelling or going on holidays. So we wake up in a different town or whatever we do the show but it’s always great, the reaction the crowd and the people are amazing they are always welcoming and it’s always nice to see what way people are in different towns. It’s a lot different to this country. I always find people here are stand offish in Ireland whereas in France or Germany they are very in your face. It’s better I really like that but Irish kind of like, they don’t trust you for a little bit eventually they get to know you better and they come a bit closer but it’s a lot harder, a lot more harder work to get them in whereas in France or Germany everyone just stands there and it’s great they are just mad for it.

Have you had any bizarre experiences while you were touring or on stage?

Yeah many…. well I remember one time in France the Farfisa Organ was carried through the crowd and about 5 people with the keyboard player started playing i think i was in the crowd. I don’t know what way I was with the guitars it was just crazy I wouldn’t even call it music it was just noise – organised noise but it was pretty cool. But what’s crazy – it’s a live performance, people are supposed to get indulged you’d never get that over here people are a little bit afraid to loose their inhibitions maybe. We’ve had loads I remember (laughs) ah no there is a few I don’t even wanna say they could be looking at this, no I better not but yeah we have had a few.

Do you find it difficult to get the audience to engage?

In Ireland it is but everywhere else they are a bit more in your face It’s almost like they’ve paid in and they want their money’s worth it’s different over here it can be challenging you always see that guy in the back tapping his foot maybe then after a while you might get a leg shake or something then eventually a couple people dancing, it takes a few and then it’s like an infectious disease. If someone does it then it spreads.

What advice do you have for people who want to form their own bands?

Don’t (laughs) – it’s a life of misery. No it has its challenges 80% of a band is about waiting around talking and waiting to play if you’re doing tours. 20% of the time is playing – the rest of it is down to airports and the back of vans so be prepared for that. It’s not always on stage and craziness it can be quite challenging depending on the person as well. You need to be quite strong mentally and capable to do that for long periods of time especially if you’re fond of drink you won’t last long.

What’s next for The Revellions?

We are playing Whelans next month. We are doing Bare In The Woods Festival which is coming up soon. We are recording some brass next month. We have some brass players coming in to do a bit of session work for us and we are just continuing to do what we do. There will be a tour later on in the year and we will probable do Germany and Spain France and that scene again hopefully in maybe September.

Any last Words?

Go to the shop and buy my single ‘False Hope’

Stream ‘False Hope’ below